Frances Bula header image 2

Librarians encourage people to make lots of noise

January 17th, 2010 · 26 Comments

Okay, I don’t put up every news release but this one really startled me. The library wants you to make noise. With cowbells. Okay, not in the library. It’s for the Olympics — a cute gimmick. But still. What happened to shushing?

Red Cowbells To Honour Skiing Crazy Canucks & Encourage Canadian Athletes

(Vancouver, British Columbia) – With less than one month until the Opening
Ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Vancouver Public Library is
encouraging Metro Vancouver residents to win or purchase a special red
Library cowbell to cheer on Canadian Olympic and Paralympic athletes.

The red cowbells inscribed with the Library logo and ‘Go Canada’ were
created to honour Canada’s legendary Crazy Canucks ski team that was the
subject of the Library’s 2009 One Book, One Vancouver program that
encourages Vancouverites to read the same book and participate in related

In the lead up to the 2010 Winter Games, the Library expanded the program
and chose two great books to get readers excited about the Games: The Crazy
Canucks: Canada’s Legendary Ski Team by Janet Love Morrison and The Farm
Team by Linda Bailey. The program culminated with an entry in the Rogers
Santa Claus Parade and Love Morrison, Bailey, City Councillors, Library
Trustees and staff handed out cowbells to excited parade goers.

There will be a free draw for ten bells at each of the Library’s 20
branches, including the Central Library. A limited quantity of the bells are
for sale at Bookmark, the Library gift store, for $3.95. Bookmark is
operated by Friends of the Vancouver Public Library and all proceeds support
the Library.

“It is tradition to ring cowbells during World Cup ski races and we wanted a
special memento for the 2009 One Book, One Vancouver program so creating
Library cowbells was perfect since one of the books was about the Crazy
Canucks,” said Jean Kavanagh, Manager, Marketing & Communications.

“We also learned that people ring cowbells at speed skating, cross country
skiing, hockey and even curling so we think this is a perfect, affordable
Games souvenir and they look great with those red mittens,” said Kavanagh.

The Library chose The Crazy Canucks as the 2009 adult One Book, One
Vancouver title to honour some of Canada’s greatest sports heroes as we
prepare to celebrate the next generation of Olympic and Paralympic heroes,
Kavanagh added.

“The Crazy Canucks all raced at the 1980 Games in Lake Placid, Steve
Podborski remains North America’s most-decorated downhill skier and skiers
in Whistler will be competing on the Dave Murray Downhill course in honour
of the late Crazy Canuck who passed away in 1990. We encourage people to
pick up a Library cowbell and ring them loudly for all of our 2010

The Bookmark gift store is located adjacent to the Central Library at 350
West Georgia Street.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • david hadaway

    Sorry to be a cynic but is it wrong to guess;

    Made by child labour in communist China.

    Profits to IOC in europe.

  • jimmy olson

    Love dem Krazy Librarians!

  • gmgw

    Oh my freakin’ God, how lame. Where’s Christopher Walken when we really need him?

  • I hope those cowbells will have only official sponsor logos. If this is what librarians are doing, they deserve to be made extinct by the internet.

    It’s only a shade less pathetic than the Excel gum ad posters I’ve seen, where ‘chewing is cheering’ and CHEW stands for Canadians Helping Each (other) Win. If anything screams design by committee, it’s that.

  • Lars

    Wow, some of *you* guys got up on the wrong side of the bed today. Considering that the library has been featuring stuff about the Crazy Canucks all year as their One Book thing, I think it’s a bit of harmless fun to be handing out cowbells.

    Oh, wait. Maybe you mean to say that libraries aren’t supposed to be “fun”?

  • Denis

    The Main Library now has a big fence to protect folks from what? From what I hear the staff arn’t all that keen about bells or anyhting else to do with the big circus. Mitts made by low paid labour in China, tacky clothing from the same place and now cowbells. Give us a break. One wonders just how the staff will be getting to and from work with the partial lockdown of the city.

  • david hadaway

    I’m fine with libraries being fun, it’s when they are subverted as tools of corporate propaganda aimed at children that I start to worry. Of course reading PR guff recycled as news didn’t help.

    Sorry, Frances, but this was beneath you and sorry Lars, I didn’t use to be like this but then I woke up.

  • Bill Lee

    Big fence at Central?
    That is to contain the crush of the dozen out-of-town soaking wet viewers of the jumbo screen showing TV events from Die Olympiade from the small stage they built there.

    Meanwhile I saw the cowbells in a branch library. Three of the small (maybe 8 cm / 3 in. wide and about 5 cm /2 in high) red enamel metal bells looking like small irons were in the acrylic cube of the entries box for the branch contest. About a dozen entries so far. Few were paying attention and the pile of Crazy Canucks books in any branch never seem to be touched.

    “Jean Kavanagh, Manager, Marketing & Communications” Isn’t she the lead-footed person putting out memos about no contrary signs, no Telus, no Pepsi etc. at any library events?
    She’s only been with VPL since the great Paul Whitney-inspired lockout. And she also did stuff for government and even David Suzuki Foundation.

  • Stephanie

    Hm. The marketing and communications folks might support this, but the actual librarians I know think that this corporate PR exercise is a crock.

  • Why does VPL need a “Manager, Marketing & Communications”?

  • spartikus

    Why does VPL need a “Manager, Marketing & Communications”?

    Dunno. Why does the Red Cross? Why does Oxfam? Why does New York City? Why does Google? Why does Urbanismo need a blog?

    They probably all see a need to communicate and promote.

  • Well . . . errrrr . . . spartikus . . . huh why?

    The library is a public functioning institution, the purpose of which is apodictic!

    I use the library as a second sense: I’ll bet most do!

    I don’t visit the library, all of a sudden, because a pretty desk bound lady budgets for big a LED to entice me to get knowledge or read a good book.

    I, and I suspect most library users, go of our own volition.

    MM&C is just one more “hidden persuder” and I’d be a little happier if VPL spent more on books than on a pretty little lady using up the “book budget” to flog 5-0 mittens . . . . . .

    I don’t pump my blog yet 5,000+/- interested bloggers per month check it out.

    People across the world seem to get something out of it without some Edward Bernay’s clone butting their heads.

    What’s all this about the city tightening it’s belt anyway?

  • gmgw

    That “big fence” is surrounding a construction project on the north side of the library which is going to be some kind of multimedia art installation (so far it’s pretty unattractive– looks more like a giant squatter’s shack). The Jumbotron for the mindless throngs partaking of the Olympics abomination will be located at Larwill Park down the street, not at the library.

    In mild defense of VPL, the library has for some time been tying to deal with serious cutbacks in funding (and therefore staffing levels), like every other City department, and library patrons seem to be increasingly apathetic about “their” library– for example, the last few booksales have generated disappointing revenue, and the Bookmark store Frances refers to is in danger of closing. And circulation is sinking, as is the general level of literacy in our society, as more and more people make the Net their sole source of information (reinventing the “library” concept in order to remain relevant in the 21st century is a challenge faced by urban libraries all over North America). More people go to libraries these days to squat at computer stations all day– or to take advantage of the library’s free wi-fi– than to read or take out books. So it’s understandable that VPL would like to raise its own profile and find new ways of marketing itself, as well as new sources of funding.

    Unfortunately, trying to hitch a ride on the Olympics gravy train is by definition a very short-term strategy, and crass little ideas like this Crazy Canucks and cowbell(!!) promotion just makes VPL look silly in the extreme, like watching your elderly grandmother trying to channel Lady Gaga in a karaoke bar.

  • PS Yunno “s”, I can understand MacDonald’s need for a “Manager, Marketing & Communications” . . . but . . .

    Without that pressure no one would eat their shit!

    The library is cash strapped and ain’t no shit!

  • gmgw . . . “More people go to libraries these days to squat at computer stations all day– or to take advantage of the library’s free wi-fi– than to read or take out books.”

    Huh . . . no wonder we are hostin’ the Oh-lymics

  • spartikus

    I, and I suspect most library users, go of our own volition.

    Yes, but what if Margaret Atwood [or insert name of author Urbanismo respects] gave an author reading and nobody came. Not because there wasn’t interest, but because nobody knew about it.

    Just sayin’

  • Blaffergassted

    From today’s Vancouver Sun:
    Library access for blind in danger

    CNIB will no longer pay $10 million, asks government to step up

    After 90 years of providing library resources to the blind and visually impaired, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind announced today it will no longer continue to pay $10 million annually to provide braille and accessible audio materials to libraries.

    “We can’t continue to operate library services as a charitable entity,” said John Mulka, CNIB’s executive director in B.C. and the Yukon.

    “It’s not right. Canada is the only G-8 country that does not publicly fund any library services for people with vision loss.”

  • Phew . . . CNIB that’s where the must should go . . .

    I mean when Margaret A visits, sure a note in the local media: the receptionist can do that between phone calls.

    VPSN, and their like, sometimes meets there but they send out their own blurbs.

    Something stinks in the State of Denmark and it smells of misplaced priorities . . .

  • Bill Lee

    And the lamprey is dying.
    Duthies Books always tried to have a store next to the Central Library because they could attract readers who wanted a book-in-hand. Though this city was too cheap to buy much hardbacks that are lucrative in the trade other than “cocktail party chatter” associated books.

    Last updated on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2010 6:55PM EST

    The last store is on 2239 West Fourth Avenue in Vancouver Kits district.

    Their page and lots of (non-book-buying) nostalgia is breaking out as though the 1999 bankruptcy never happened.

  • Higgins

    I think I bumped in to you over at City Caucus one day. Someone was making fun of you, actually, of your words. For some reason they were calling you “Sukitraps” Now I understand why.

  • SV

    Hey let’s keep the pettiness confined to citycaucus, ok?

  • spartikus

    I think I bumped in to you over at City Caucus one day.

    Ah yes, the Mike Klassen post where he announced it would be necessary – sadly, of course – to fire every city worker who has ever worked on a political campaign [that wasn’t for the NPA], donated to a political party [that wasn’t the NPA], or written a letter to the editor or left blog comment [even tangentially critical of the NPA].

    That post was the pinnacle…the pure, concentrated essence of Klassenist Thought[tm].

    Now I understand why.

    Sticks and stones, and all that.

  • Vlad the Inhaler

    Jumbotrons at the library.

    Live broadcasts to a billion people of the masses pounding red cowbells.

    Are they shooting a sequel to Blade Runner here?

    Maybe Reveen is back.

  • Or, management could donate one hours’ pay – thereby contributing more than this cowbell charade will ever amass …

  • Zotastic

    Hey, if hundreds of other businesses and organizations are trying to capitalize on the Olympics why can’t the library?

    It’s fun. It’s cute. It’s no big deal and if the bells help to raise money or bring the library to the attention of more people then I say go for it.

    Frankly, I rather buy a bell that raises funds for a library than some of the other over priced Olympic souvenirs.

    All the library is doing is trying to make the best of a bad situation that many feel have been thrust upon them. At least they’re trying to make lemon aid out of some pretty sour lemons.

    To think that an organization like a library shouldn’t be marketing in whatever way possible is really short sighted. Not everyone is so well versed in library services as some of you proclaim and competition for public awareness is fiercer and fiercer these days.

    The library is just doing what many other public and not-for-profit organizations are doing and rightfully so. At least they’re being creative about it.

  • Sunshine

    Well put Zotastic. A friend brought me a VPL cowbell today and I love it. In fact, I’m trying to get my hands on more of them for family and friends. There’s something about the words “Go Canada” that bring goosebumps to my skin these days. I, for one, am proud to be hosting the Olympics and celebrate any opportunity to unite this country in a time where people feel a need to belong to something. Go Canada! Go VPL!